As you settle into your regular work schedule as Travel Manager – which will most likely involve a reasonable amount of globetrotting this year – it’s worth highlighting some tried and tested tips that would help in the successful management of both business and travel demands.
Let’s reacquaint ourselves with the following:
1. Proactively plan ahead
Yes, this point might be comically clichéd - but as with any overused saying, it serves to deter forgetfulness (especially in this season ripe with numerous resolution).
In being preemptive this year, I would suggest you grab a sheet of paper and write down the laundry list of tasks that are required prior, during and after your business trip. This activity enables you to get a comprehensive view and understanding of what needs to be done so you don’t miss anything.
Also, I’ve found there to be something purposeful when I manually write down these to-dos on a sticky-note (versus on my phone or computer) – it’s a powerful way of imprinting these duties into my memory bank.
2. Prioritize! Prioritize!! Prioritize!!!
After completing the exhaustive exercise of putting a list together, I then arrange each task in order of precedence. This grouping enables me to further distill said chores into “essentials” (tasks that must be completed before my departure or before my business meeting) and “electives” (tasks that can either wait or be completed at a later date).
3. Delegation is a key ally
Depending on the duration of the corporate trip, I might be incommunicado for a specific amount of time – and as you know, every second in business matters. After prioritizing (and completing all my compulsory tasks) I then assign the remaining tasks, which I can’t complete prior to my trip, to my subordinates.
This is a strategic move that not only ensures a continuance of business activities in my absence; it also empowers underlings to take on more responsibility.
Aside: I also realise that delegation (which involves entrusting other people to deliver on tasks) might be hard – especially if you’ve got a Type-A personalities. Do remember this is crucial from an efficiency perspective - understanding that you can’t do everything by yourself.
4. Understand Time Management
The allocation of time to specific tasks is another valuable skill that has played a pivotal role in helping me juggle work whilst travelling. For each listed task, I ascribe a reasonable amount of time for completion, after which, I stop and move on the next.
This I find creates a sense of urgency and enables me to get through as many tasks as possible, and prevents me from spending too much time on just one item.
It is better to do a bit of everything rather than all of one thing.
5. Invest in tools for systemization
Whether it be a desktop and mobile application or even a project management course (there are many free online), I’ve found that investing in and equipping myself with instruments that enable me arrange things accordingly, and into a system chiefly beneficial. Putting a method to the madness also aids in making task appear less overwhelming.
6. Find ways to decompress
Taking time to mentally and physically disconnect from your routine is of tremendous importance – I find running after a long flight to be my go to activity.
In order to be productive - and above all - sane, finding an endeavor that helps you unwind and tune-out is a mandatory for thriving.
7. If things get derailed, take a deep breath!
As you’ve probably realized, despite tremendous efforts, sometimes things don’t go accordingly to plan – that’s just life.
In such a scenario when things go belly up, pause, inhale and resist the urge to panic. Panicking makes you reactive which in turn prevents you from thinking clearly and coming up with solutions.
I hope you are emboldened to make your way through these suggestions! Striking the (sometimes elusive) balance of business and travel might seem daunting, but as with the completion of any long journey, it requires just one step. Take it!
Written by Pip Spibey-Dodd @ Locomote